LIBERTY TAX SERVICE: FOUNDER AND CEO JOHN HEWITT
Liberty Tax Service CEO John Hewitt is an influential icon in the tax industry, nationally recognized as an entrepreneurial visionary with a blueprint for success. With 41 years of tax industry experience, Hewitt is the most experienced CEO ever in the tax preparation business. He’s the founder of two of the top tax three franchises: Liberty Tax Service and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.
Accounting Today has named Hewitt one of the Top 100 most influential persons in the tax industry ten times. The International Franchise Association honored John Hewitt as Entrepreneur of the Year. Hewitt was also named Entrepreneur of the Year for Virginia by Ernst & Young for 2003. He is personally committed to fighting hunger on a global basis, and co-founded Stop Hunger Now an international hunger relief organization in 1998.
Hewitt envisioned his second company, Liberty Tax Service while under a non-compete contract with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. His business plan was set into motion in Canada, when Hewitt purchased a Canadian tax company September 1, 1997. Using his blueprint for success, Hewitt inaugurated U.S. operations in January 1998. More than 3,400 Liberty Tax offices are currently operating in the United States and Canada.
John Hewitt’s roots in the tax industry date back to 1969. While a college student, he enrolled in a non-curricular course that would change his life, and have a profound effect on the tax industry. He took the H&R Block tax course, and described it as “the most interesting course I’ve ever taken.” Hewitt started as a tax preparer, and then began his climb up the H&R Block management ranks. He became assistant manager for Block’s Buffalo district the following year. After a stint as a district manager in Elmira, New York from 1975 until 1980, Hewitt advanced to a position as regional director, the youngest ever in the Block operating system. Hewitt managed over 2,000 preparers in 250 offices in one of Block’s largest districts.
Hewitt embraced the technological revolution, and had the foresight to imagine the future and evolution of computerized tax preparation while at H&R Block. In the early 1980’s, he and his father developed a decision-tree tax interview program that generated individual responses to tax interview questions. It was the first PC tax software of its kind in the industry. Anticipating the impact of this potential new tax revolution, Hewitt was optimistic that he could market this futuristic product to his present employer. H&R Block was not a taker, so Hewitt took steps to start a new tax company. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service was founded in Hampton, Roads Virginia in the early 80’s. The company utilized its own unique “Hewtax” tax interview program.
By 1986, IRS personnel also had designs on the positive effects that computerized tax preparation could have on the filing process. This was the first year that the IRS tested the electronic filing process to allow taxpayers to directly file their taxes, bypassing the mailing of returns entirely. The timing was right. Hewitt took Jackson Hewitt public in 1994. The company, a solid second to Block, subsequently sold for $483 million in 1997. When Hewitt left Jackson Hewitt in fiscal 1997, the company was operating 1,345 offices. Jackson Hewitt was the first successful national industry competitor against H&R Block.
Under Hewitt’s leadership, Liberty Tax Service continues to meet customers’ needs providing computerized income tax preparation, electronic filing, refund loans, and online filing through eSmart Tax. Each office offers customers audit assistance, a money back guarantee, and free tax return checking. The Liberty Tax Service franchise opportunity is #9 on the fastest growing franchises list of the 2010 Entrepreneur “Franchise 500.”